'Redemption' depicts powerful story of forgiving the unforgivable

By Cecily Markland

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"REDEMPTION," Covenant Communications, $19.95, 105 minutes

A true story from Utah’s frontier forms the basis for the film, “Redemption.” Now available on DVD, “Redemption” is both picturesque and poignant in its teaching of powerful, soul-searching messages about compassion and about forgiving the unforgivable.

As history relates, in 1862, Jean Baptiste, a French immigrant, was convicted of robbing some 300 graves in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Involved in the investigation was lawmaker Henry Heath, an immigrant Latter-day Saint from England, who arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

Baptiste was labeled a ghoul, his forehead tattooed to indicate his crime and he was exiled, first to Antelope Island and then to Fremont Island.

The film depicts Heath, caught between public outcry on one hand and his responsibility as a lawmaker and sense of compassion on the other — and all this amid his own grief over losing his young daughter.

Written and directed by Tom Russell, the film features three well-known Hollywood actors, Edward Hermann, Margot Kidder and Barry Corbin, with Utahn Alex Kirry of KSL in a cameo role.

Though there is some departure from history, as there is still some mystery as to what happened to Baptiste, “Redemption” has a present-day impact. Moving scenes — several with very little dialogue — invite viewers to weigh questions about the handling of the crime and appropriateness of the punishment. Ultimately, the engaging tale causes viewer to examine their own hearts to see where forgiveness may give them a chance for their own personal “Redemption.”

“Redemption” is rated PG for some violence and language.

Cecily Markland is a freelance writer, book editor, publicist and author of "Hope: One Mile Ahead" and the children’s book "If I Made a Bug." She owns Inglestone Publishing and produces cecilymarkland.com, a calendar of LDS events in Arizona.

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